At Buzznation we’re interested in helping our clients create experiences for their customers. Just because events are virtual, we don’t think they need to be templated, cookie-cutter-crafted affairs. Why risk putting your audience to sleep by making them sit through what is, essentially, just a fancy Zoom call with big ideas?
As we’ve got more comfortable and ambitious with events, we’ve experienced a growing demand for what we are calling “virtual experiences”. Fun, engaging sessions designed to encourage virtual event attendees to relax in a sociable environment and absorb some new knowledge, learn a new skill or just simply enjoy themselves.
In this post, I want to highlight one experience we created recently, and talk about how virtual event organizers need to be considering experience as perhaps the most important element of a virtual event strategy.
This month, we helped one long-standing client to host a session on wines from around with world, with expert knowledge passed on, in person, from a master sommelier to an invited audience.
Certified master sommelier Diego Meraviglia, president of the North American Sommeliers Association, took attendees on a virtual journey through his native Italy. After the session, one audience member told me that Diego spoke with such passion and so evocatively that they felt as if they were tasing every grape variety as he spoke about it.
Sessions like this – with the chance to share the company of a true expert and pick up some genuinely valuable knowledge – are key to ensuring attendees leave your event feeling that they have experienced something, rather than just sat through another set of online presentations.
Crucial to ensuring the success of this particular experience was the choice of speaker. Diego is a world-renowned expert with outstanding credentials. But beyond that, as a speaker, he understands the dynamic required to make his masterclass work as a virtual event. This involves building a rapport with an audience (an impressive skill when they are spread across the planet) and imparting his expertise with charisma and flair.
The idea of a virtual wine knowledge masterclass was selected by our client who felt it would be a good fit for their audience’s interests and aspirations – after all, who doesn’t want to understand more about the world’s most mysterious and romantic beverage?
Scheduled for the end of the day, just before attendees would be expected to be logging off and relaxing, hitting a casual note was essential to hold the attention of an audience who were starting to think about dinner, family time or Netflix.
And to make them feel extra special, we arranged for our clients’ guests to receive gift boxes containing cheese platters and wine drinking toolkits to be delivered directly to their homes.
At its heart, an experience is something out-of-the-ordinary, that delivers value (be it knowledge or enjoyment) and that will be remembered. This is the criteria we aim for when we’re building experiences for virtual events.
Experience can be built into the event’s core program itself, as with our advanced audio-visual solutions for presentations and keynotes that go off with a bang. Or they can be fun, diversionary side-sessions to thank your audience for their time.
As these events continue to grow and organizers become more adventurous, the scope for delivering experiences will grow too. We’re working with some clients to create state-of-the-art live streamed performances from renowned artists. While others are choosing immersive, online games that can be joined by attendees – such as escape room puzzles or murder-mystery parties.
So, if your organization is one of the thousands that’s planning virtual events for the coming year, make sure you’re ahead of the pack by focusing on creating extraordinary, valuable and memorable experiences. Ciao!